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Versatility is a skill that is an important part in many facets of life. Make sure you do not confuse versatility with flexibility. Flexibility is what I use to keep my wife from kicking me out, versatility is what I use to catch more fish.
Everyone has there favorite ways to fish regardless of what specie you are after. When I hear people say “They were just not biting good today”. I will ask them what they were using and if they tried other things in different areas, more times than not I will get an answer like “Why would I do that I caught them here before on this bait”. This is being non-versatile (stubborn) to the extreme and it does happen, I have been guilty of this in the past myself.
I have also gone to the other extreme, if I was not catching very many or any fish throwing a top-water bait in shallow water, I would run the boat 20 miles and bounce a jig on the bottom in deep water. I have learned from my youthful mistakes that I don’t have to make drastic changes to trigger a few more bites. I may start out fishing a shallow flat with a top-water bait, if I catch only a few fish or don’t get any strikes at all I will switch to a shallow running sub-surface lure like a spinnerbait or a short lipped crankbait. If the fish stop biting these offerings or don’t bite them at all, I will back off this shallow flat to the first deeper water and start fishing this drop off with deeper running baits and slower bottom contacting lures like a jig. If this fails to produce then I will move to a different area with another type of cover or structure like a weed edge or a channel bend bank, anything different from what I wasn’t getting bit from. This is just one example of the process that I go through on the water, there are countless ways to adapt this multi bait versatility to every situation that is encountered.
Lack of confidence in a particular lure or style of fishing is the biggest reason many fisherman tend to stick with only a certain few lures and fishing patterns. Gaining confidence in a lure or pattern to become more versatile is not easy and may take some time. Remember the stubborn person I spoke of a little bit ago, well becoming this person for a day may actually help you become more versatile. Starting with different lures, lets say you want to learn to be a better crankbait fisherman then the next time you go fishing don’t use anything but crankbaits all day. Doing this will give you a better understanding of what each type (lip size and shape) of crankbait will do, as far as which ones come through cover without snagging, what depths they run and how much action or vibration each style has. This same process can be used to learn how to fish a jig, carolina rig, top-water or any lure made. The more you know about how a bait works and its capabilities and limitations the more fish you will catch with it. The more baits you have this knowledge of, and confidence in, the more versatile you will be and ultimately catch more fish.
entire process can also be used to learn how to fish different depths
of water and types of cover. If you want to learn how to fish deep
water then spend the day doing such or spend the day fishing points to
learn how to fish them. This may sound like a wasted day on the water
using the same bait or fishing the same type of cover all day, but you
will be surprised at how much more focused you will be by only
concentrating on one thing, this focus will pay off and you will catch
fish, maybe not as many as you would like at first but trust me it
will pay off in the long run. You will learn to be more versatile and
be able to read the water and be more effective at choosing the proper
bait for each situation. Until next time keep your lure wet.